A proposal to place a nine-month moratorium on all non-residential construction in the city failed on a 3-2 City Council vote Tuesday. The council's action followed more than three hours of public testimony and often emotional council debate.
"We have failed to do adequate overall planning in this city--it's been hit and miss," argued pro-moratorium Councilman Gil Archuletta. The action, proposed by Councilwoman Jan Dennis, would have restricted commercial development until next fall when the city plans to revise its general plan.
Archuletta also angrily accused the council majority of stifling dissent on this and other issues. He charged that an unsigned flyer recently distributed to city residents denouncing the proposal was inflammatory and was "fomented and encouraged by this council and financed by those who want to consume (property in) this city for their own selfish gain." Nobody has taken public credit for the anonymous flyer--which incorrectly stated that the proposed moratorium might prevent residents from rebuilding or adding on to their own homes.
Councilmen Bob Holmes and Jim Walker joined Mayor Russell Lesser in defeating the moratorium. Holmes argued that current building code protections are adequate and he called the construction restrictions "ill-conceived, unnecessary and punitive."
Calling for an end to the bickering, Walker urged other council members to "put aside our differences and move ahead."
The opinions of about 30 residents who spoke before the council ran 2 to 1 against any moratorium.
"A moratorium would make the law repressive rather than protect our property rights," said Charles Mau, a resident of The Strand.
Resident Hal Keasler agreed, saying, "We should put this thing to bed and quit trying to do a frontal lobotomy when all we need is a Band-Aid."
But others expressed concern over increased density and traffic.
"There is a tremendous resentment in the whole area toward overdevelopment, and Manhattan Beach is not exempt," noted resident Lillian Money. "We need to back off and take a look here and make sure we have adequate controls for the future."